In the Dark and the Light

New Orleans, 2010?

Oh lordy, don’t let me fall apart now…

Sitting in my bathtub, the door was shut, the lights off, and the shower curtain closed. The sun was going down, and the bathroom was getting dark as I decided to turn the shower on while sitting in the hot bath water, trying to escape into the waterfall of warmth.  Was I trying to recreate the safety of a womb?

“This is it”, I thought,” this is what it feels like to crack”.  I knew that I was starting to lose it, after leaving the last burlesque practice on a sour note.  I think I yelled at Ben.  I shocked myself enough to not really know what I even said.

Ben was my friend, associate performer, and troupe producer. He was encouraging us to take part in something that I was skeptical of committing our time to. Lately, our troupe was approached more and more by various interested parties. I knew we had something special going on, and because of stories from older performers from the past, my gut told me to fight for creative control and all rights to everything we created.

My fear was that people would take advantage of us while they knew we might be blinded by the excitement.  My default method was to not trust anyone until they proved themselves.  Especially when there was no contract that involved money.

I drove home after the meeting, knowing that I lashed out at Ben in a way that I hadn’t acted toward anyone since I moved out of my mom’s house at age 17. I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t find a way to politely decline or put off the discussion of whatever it was we were talking about.

Although my memory is foggy about the exact subject of my frustration, I remember that I was stretched thin, and perhaps I might have felt like I would have to take on more, for participating in something that where we had little-to-no creative control or immediate payment, but only future publicity.  This did not sit well with me, having a full-time restaurant management job, while going to school full-time, performing a couple of times a week, and trying to run my entertainment business.

I sat there, letting the water fall on me like a hot rain, with my eyes closed. I often turn to meditation when I am so stressed out that I don’t know what to do or think next, but I accidentally found myself in something closer to a hallucination or trance. Usually, my meditative vision is of the ocean along a rocky coastline, but somehow I ended up in the woods; and it was so dark that I couldn’t even see the moon. All I knew is that I had to rely on my senses to find my way to safe ground and comfort.

I was feeling my way over logs, through trees and bushes, hoping to not stumble into a venomous animal, or even a man with bad intentions. I knew morning would come, but until then, I had to just keep feeling my way forward.

Out of nowhere, without purposefully deciding to change visions, all I could see was bright white light. Not the kind of light that has a source, but it was all encompassing, like white opaque air. I could only see my hand if it held it up directly to my nose. This meant that I could not see my body move forward. I froze, not knowing where I was, what the white light was coming from, or what I should do. It wasn’t fog, it wasn’t smoke, there was no smell, or sound, and even if I stooped lower, the opacity of the air was still solid white.  Maybe I would trip over something, but it might tell me something about where I was.

I decided, that all I had was myself, and I had to trust myself and move forward. I might have even thought of the lesson from the play, “Waiting for Godot”, where a desperate character is told that someone is coming to offer rescue and relief, and they never do, but the subject ends up waiting forever, missing out on life, because they just stay in one spot.  Waiting.

It felt like a good half-hour until I opened my eyes, feeling amazed at what I had just seen.  I turned off the shower and sat in the full tub of hot water, realizing that I just had an experience that I had never had before. Was it a hallucination? Did I just go crazy? Was it a God? Who cares, it was a soothing answer to everything on my plate. Trust yourself and proceed.  Even when you can’t see the answer, or the next day.

Mission accomplished. I made it.

Mission re-activated.  I’m still going.

(Dedicated to my friend Ben Wisdom.  For the good memories of both professionalism and friendship).

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